NBA AM: Are The Magic Open To Moving Howard?
As Dwight Howard Turns: The Orlando Magic dropped the Chicago Bulls last night in Chicago, further reinforcing the team’s internal belief they are not as far away from competing with the elite in the East as some want to paint them.
The Magic are underdogs in almost any scenario you paint versus the Bulls and the Miami HEAT, but are arguably as good as anyone who could sit in the third chair.
Enter the Dwight Howard circus.
Sources say the Magic have not been made an offer they view is worth tearing apart the team for, and while the team is actively engaged in trying to add to the roster, nothing major seems close.
Magic president Otis Smith confirmed he has now heard from the 29 other teams in the league all trying to understand what Orlando is looking to do, if only to attach themselves to a deal to get what they want if they have no shot at Howard.
League sources continue to point to Houston and Golden State as having the willingness to give the Magic multiple assets for Howard, even if he won’t commit beyond this season.
The Mavericks, Lakers and Nets are said to be Howard’s preferred trade destinations, however Magic sources say that concept has cooled enough to be almost irrelevant.
Source close to Howard were adamant during the All-Star weekend that Howard would be testing his options in July regardless of where he was traded, so the idea that Howard would commit to anyone in March seems to be off the table.
The team that has Howard at the end of the season can offer Howard one more guaranteed contract year and higher annual raises, but sources close to Howard say that’s really not going to be a deciding factor.
There is a strong belief that Magic ownership simply believes that what they have in Howard now is worth far more than anything they are being offered in trade and with Howard keeping his option to stay in Orlando even for one more season open, ownership would rather risk losing him in July than moving him for what’s on the table.
One team source that’s been trying to engage Orlando says the Magic will listen to Howard discussions, but they are not actively involved in shaping a deal.
The same source said the idea that Orlando is looking to add to Howard is real, but that it’s clear the Magic have left the door open for Howard offers. It’s likely going to take something real and serious to get them to engage in a meaningful way.
Josh Smith: As HOOPSWORLD’s Eric Pincus hit on yesterday, reports out of Atlanta suggest that Hawks’ forward Josh Smith has asked the team to explore moving him and feels like he needs a fresh start somewhere else.
Smith is owed $12.4 million this season and has one more year left on his deal worth $13.2 million next year.
Smith, who is from the Atlanta area, joked this summer that he’d welcome a trade, mainly because he seems to always be the scapegoat for the teams problems.
The latest complaint according to Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is that the Hawks may not have done enough in support of his candidacy for All-Star, despite having a great season. The report continues that Smith feels the team may not be committed to winning a championship.
Hawks’ sources denied that Smith was being actively shopped, but said that yesterday’s story has prompted more calls with Josh’s name attached. His name comes up a lot as teams try and poach real talent for the chips they do not want.
The Hawks are 23-16 on the season which is amazing considering the season-ending injury to Al Horford and the recent loss of Joe Johnson to a knee injury.
Hawks’ sources say that while there is concern about Josh Smith, the chances of a trade involving Josh at the trade deadline is fairly slim unless someone makes a serious offer which has not happened yet.
The Hawks almost traded Smith during the 2011 NBA Draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the 2nd overall pick, however a firm deal never materialized.
With the trade deadline less than six days away, it will be interesting to see if the news that Smith wants out jumps starts a real conversation.
Hawks’ sources say they are not actively engaged in anything involving Josh, but it seems that could change with the right offer.
Ainge Still Denying Deals: Celtics’ president Danny Ainge continue to deny that his team is close to making a deal in the next week, but did confirm that it’s not from a lack of trying to improve.
“As of right now we have nothing close to happening,” Ainge said to WEEI in Boston. “It’s not from a lack of trying. Not necessarily to make major changes, but to make small changes at least.”
One concept Ainge was clear on is that he would not mortgage his team’s future for the present, even with his Celtic team stringing together some wins recently, mainly because he understands it’s going to be time to re-tool or rebuild this summer.
“You’ve got to have some good things go your way to rebuild. We’ve got some good pieces,” Ainge said. “We’ve got some players still under contract that we really like still on the roster. More than we did in the 2002-2003 era. Completely rebuild, I’m not sure we really need to do that.”
The Celtics have a pressing need and that’s to replace reserve big man Jermaine O’Neal, however even with an ending contract Ainge labeled the idea of trading Jermaine for something was “more unlikely than likely.”
“I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do with Jermaine and what he wants to do,” Ainge said. “Jermaine and I have been in constant contact and we’ll keep communicating over the next week or so.”
O’Neal is considering season-ending surgery on his left wrist and has missed the Celtics’ last six games.
Some Nuggets: Here are some small bite sized pieces of news to jump start your morning:
Crawford To The Pacers? My guy Ben Golliver is reporting via Twitter that talks involving Portland’s Jamal Crawford heading to Indiana are real and Portland’s asking price seems to be a 2012 first-round draft pick and guard AJ Price.
Golliver goes on to say that Indiana is balking at including a first-round draft pick in the deal and that his sources say ”The first team to give Portland a first round pick for Crawford will have him.”
Rose Sick Of Howard Talk Too? If you have reached the end of your interest in where Orlando’s Dwight Howard plays next, you are not alone.
“It definitely is getting old,” Bulls’ guard Derrick Rose said to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. “I’m sick and tired of hearing it. Chicago, marketing-wise is a great city. If someone chooses to come here, they definitely could.”
“I’m cool with the teammates I have. We have a winning record. It ain’t like we need to change anything. It’s not up to me. It’s up to the front office.”
“If it’s not about the Bulls, I really couldn’t care less about it,” Rose said.
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